Karen Robidoux 27 is charged with the murder of her one-year-old son Samuel. The child was starved to death, supposedly due to a “prophetic vision,” which allegedly led the baby’s parents to withhold solid food for 51 days.
Robidoux’s husband Jacques was also charged and found guilty in a previous trial. He is now serving an automatic life sentence in prison.
Karen Robidoux’s lawyer says that cult “brainwashing” rendered his client “powerless” to stop the starvation of her son and that she felt compelled to follow the group’s beliefs.
However, the prosecutor scoffs at the brainwashing defense and says cult members still visit her weekly.
There is no doubt that what motivated Karen Robidoux to starve her child was religious devotion. She had no other reason to kill her baby and the prosecution hasn’t offered another motive.
But the jury in Jacques Robidoux’s trial rejected any religious defense and instead convicted the father regardless of his faith.
Will a second jury now find Karen Robidoux innocent due to sympathy for a mother driven by “prophecy” and peer pressure to neglect her child to death? It seems doubtful that the jury will place its sympathy with anyone other than the baby Samuel.
Historically, there has been little sympathy in court for cult members when their actions cause deaths.
This has been proven repeatedly through the Manson Family trials and the death sentences handed out to members of Aum in Japan. Nine Aum members have been sentenced to death thus far for their roles in the 1995 gas attack of Tokyo’s subway system that killed 19 and injured thousands.
Former Manson family followers such as Leslie Van Houten have found little sympathy even after thirty years in prison. Van Houten has been denied parole over and over again.
Charles Manson was not present for the grizzly Tate-La Bianca murders, but he was charged and convicted for his role anyway, as a cult leader who controlled his followers like puppets.
However, Roland Robidoux the leader of “The Body,” has yet to be charged with any crime.
This summer there were negotiations between the prosecutor and Karen Robidoux’s lawyer for a plea agreement. There was some speculation that she might plea guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
If history remains consistent a plea agreement is probably the best outcome she can expect.
Like other cult members who have caused deaths in the past, Karen Robidoux will likely have many years in prison to reflect upon her actions and the group that led her to tragedy.